Dear undergraduate students - and in particular, those who are graduating at the end of this semester:
I am writing to provide additional details regarding the undergraduate commencement programs and related activities. Please read this message carefully.
You may have already seen listed on the commencement.rice.edu website that ceremonies for the Class of 2021 on Friday night, and Class of 2020 on Saturday night, begin in the Rice stadium at 7:30 pm. For each event, all students will gather together in their college quad to line up and then process as a college to the stadium.
The program for each event will include speeches by President Leebron and two members of each graduating class. We will also recognize student winners of a selected number of year-end awards, including the Graham C. Stebbings College Service Award, the Student Association Outstanding Senior Awards, and the Rice University Service Award. Each graduate will have their name read as they walk across the stage to receive their diploma tube from President Leebron. Rice photographers will capture pictures of this moment, for each graduate, and will make those available to students after the event. Each ceremony will conclude with a firework celebration.
A notable change from previous commencement ceremonies is that we will not conclude with a recession through the Sallyport in the Academic Quadrangle. Please know that we made this change in the program after careful consideration, but see it as necessary. Both undergraduate commencement ceremonies will conclude after dark, which presents substantial logistical challenges for graduates and their families, as well as public health concerns, given the likelihood of crowding surrounding a long procession to the Sallyport and gathering with family after.
That said, walking through the Sallyport is a cherished tradition for Rice undergraduates, and reimagining a way for graduates to gather together and collectively share in their Sallyport moment is important. As such, we are organizing events so that colleges can process through the Sallyport, as a college, prior to commencement on Friday (for 2021 graduates) and Saturday (for 2020 graduates). The schedule will reflect the founding order of the colleges to follow tradition, but the schedule will also be relatively tight to allow all colleges to process during the day leading up to the evening events on both Friday and Saturday. Sallyport procession events on both days will happen in the afternoon. A detailed schedule and other logistic information is forthcoming and will be posted on the commencement.rice.edu website and available from residential college magisters and coordinators as well.
For our graduates, I hope you are looking forward to commencement next month, and celebrating your achievements with family and friends. It will be here before you know it!
Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates